(146) Crovie-Gamrie-St John’s Kirk Circuit (Aberdeenshire)

Route Summary
This is a wonderfully scenic coastal walk with some steep ups and downs along the way. The route takes in two very picturesque and attractive former fishing villages and a wonderful viewpoint at the evocative ruin of St John’s Kirk, overlooking Gamrie Bay.

Duration: 3 hours.

Route Overview
Duration: 3 hours.
Transport/Parking: The Stagecoach #273 from Banff goes to Gardenstown. Our route could be re-arranged to start and end in Gardenstown. Check timetable. There is a small free car-park at the walk start/end point.
Length: 7.450 km / 4.66 mi
Height Gain: 189 meter.
Height Loss: 189 meter.
Max Height: 111 meter.
Min Height: 7 meter.
Surface: Moderate. Mostly good paths with some paved surfaces, and a section on a rough road. The access path to St John’s Church is affected by landslip at the base, but is easily passable by an alternative rough path.
Difficulty: Medium.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance and overall ascent.
Dog Friendly: Yes, but keep on lead on public roads.
Refreshments: The Garden Arms in Gardenstown, otherwise we suggest Macduff/Banff, or Fraserburgh.

Description
This is an exhilarating rollercoaster of a walk with a clutch of steep ascents and descents along one of the grandest and most picturesque coastlines in the NE of Scotland. Deep valleys (or “dens”) break up the coastal landscape, with high cliff-tops punctuated by former fisher villages clinging to tiny strips of land, constantly threatened by the sea. The fertile farmland above is assisted by a relatively benign micro-climate, protected by the Grampian Mountains and the Moray Firth. The walk starts at the fine viewpoint above Crovie where there is a picnic area and an inscribed stone. A new cliff-top path to Gardenstown provides some stunning perspectives on the coastline. On a clear day you can see the northern tip of Scotland across the Moray Firth. Originally, and still familiarly, known as Gamrie, the pretty sea-town area of Gardenstown was founded in 1720 by the local landowner as a planned fishing village, to provide rental income. From the beach there, our route ascends to the eye-catching ruins of the Church of St John, built in 1513, on a spot occupied by monks to give thanks for a famous victory over an invading Danish army in 1004 (see Waypoint 8 in the PDF for more information). Returning to the village, we take a dramatic coastal path, in places cut into the rocky headland that separates Gardenstown and Crovie. Tiny and picturesque Crovie (pronounced “Crivie”), which has no vehicular traffic through the village, was established by crofters who had been displaced from the North of Scotland by the Highland Clearances. They made a hard and precarious living from fishing, paying the local laird rent for the boats and the cottages. By the end of the 19th C, more than 50 fishing boats were based here. The village was almost destroyed in the Great Storm of January 1953. Since then most of the buildings, which all have “listed” status, have become holiday or weekend homes.

Links:
Photos from walk  
Download Route Guide  (PDF with illustrated Waypoints)
Download GPX file  (GPS Exchange Format)
Access Walk on Viewranger
Access Walk on Outdooractive
Access Walk on Wikiloc

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